Following his confirmation by the Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday, incoming fire chief Randy Royal shared some of his top priorities with KRDO Newschannel 13.
Ironically, Royal admitted that this position was not part of his plan when he joined the department back in 1987.
It was still not his plan when he took on the titles of Captain, Battalion Chief, or Deputy Chief throughout his 34 years of service.
Royal explained that it was his co-workers who convinced him to apply.
"It wasn't necessarily on my radar. It wasn't my long term goal to become the fire chief," he said, "It was really the support of the people around me encouraging me to do it."
That connection with the department and his co-workers was a big factor in his selection by Mayor John Suthers.
"Randy has both the support of leadership in the department and the rank and file in the department," Suthers told the council on Tuesday.
It's a department that's growing as the city grows.
One of Royal's top priorities is establishing three new fire stations.
The first will be adjacent to the headquarters near Memorial Park, and is intended to address the growing density of the population near downtown and relieve the surrounding stations, #1 and #8, which lead the city in calls for service.
The next two will be to the north and to the east, where new construction means new challenges in meeting the department's response time requirements.
There are no concrete plans for these additional locations, but Royal predicted they could be in the area of Voyager on the north side and Banning Lewis Ranch on the east side.
He also wants to better conserve resources, including AMR ambulances, by sending smaller crews to calls where a full response isn't needed.
Those smaller units are known as CMEDS.
Royal says AMR is onboard with this tiered response plan because there are still plenty of more serious calls for ambulances to handle.
Another priority is increasing wildfire mitigation efforts in areas that border the mountains and grasslands.
Mitigation generally involves removing vegetation and other hazards that surround homes, creating a buffer zone that allows fire crews to protect them from fast moving fires.
Most recently, these efforts were credited with preventing any serious property damage during a wildfire in the Bear Creek Regional Park area back in November.
Royal believes there's only so much that firefighters can do to attack a fire, so mitigation is critical in preventing the loss of homes.
"We're one bad windstorm and one campfire away from that hillside going up," Royal explained. "If the fire and the winds are the right mix, it's going to be very tough for us to fight it."
When asked what keeps him up at night more than anything else, Royal said it was the overall safety of his firefighters, including his own son who has been with the department for more than a dozen years.
Whether cutting ventilation holes in roofs, responding to car accidents in fast-moving traffic, or running into burning buildings, the potential for things to go wrong is significant.
"Every situation they go into is an unknown until they get there. So you look at a house. It could be structurally unstable, but you don't see that from the outside."
Unlike some of the other challenges, however, Royal admits that the dangers of firefighting are something he probably cannot entirely resolve, because they will always be a part of the job.